Pursuing an online master’s degree in materials science and engineering may seem daunting, but it is an exciting way to jumpstart your career. There are so many options to choose from, but once you narrow down your educational objectives, you will be able to find the best program for you. 

Online learning is an excellent option for those who are already working or need flexibility in their daily routines. If you want to learn more about what material science and engineering is and what your potential salary and career outlook may be, keep reading! 

What is Materials Science and Engineering?

The materials science and engineering field concerns technological advancements and the understanding of materials we use in everyday life. This kind of engineering involves physics and chemistry to create something better. Using biotechnology, nanotechnology, and energy (to name a few,) materials science engineers want to improve our current technology to invent new ways of using what we already have. It is a very innovative and creative field that depends on science and math.

This exciting area of engineering offers a variety of different areas of materials that you can study specifically, such as the following:

  • Biotechnology
  • Ceramics
  • Liquid crystals
  • Metals
  • Plasma
  • Polymers

Materials science and engineering is vast, and so many industries use this kind of engineering.

Why Get an Online Master’s in Materials Science and Engineering?

If you are passionate about the potential real-world application of your work, materials science and engineering may be your best option. You can tangibly see how the research you do will affect everyday people around the world.  Depending on your interests, this kind of engineering can impact various industries, including the medical field. There is even an aspect of material science and engineering that works with cancer research, but you can also work in various technology fields dealing with anything from batteries to 3D printers. There is so much that you can make an impact on as a materials science engineer.

Additionally, receiving a master’s degree online has multiple benefits. For starters, you will have a lot more flexibility since you will not need to commute to your classes. This will save you a lot of time if you work or have other responsibilities in your daily life. Further, pursuing school online can sometimes be more cost-effective, depending on the university. This is because you will not be actively using campus resources. Pursuing your degree online does not mean it is worth less than an in-person degree. Ultimately, it involves the same amount of time, work, and dedication as if you were studying on campus.

How Much Does an Online Master’s in Materials Science and Engineering Degree Cost?

Tuition can vary greatly among universities, so it is essential to look into the cost of attendance. All universities have a financial services office that can estimate if you will receive any aid or scholarships while attending school. You can also apply for outside scholarships to apply to your tuition. Although online schooling can be done from anywhere, you will see that state schools have much lower rates for their residents, so that is something to consider when looking for a program. The costs of a program can range anywhere from $15,000 to about $50,000.

Here are some of the highest-ranked online programs for a master’s in material science and engineering and their costs:

1. University of Florida

  • In-state tuition: $501.38 per credit hour
  • Tuition total for 30 credit program: 15,041.40
  • Out-of-state tuition: $725.75 per credit hour
  • Tuition total for 30 credit program: $21,772.50

2. North Carolina State University

  •  Residents of North Carolina
  • $5,547 per semester (fees included)
  • About $18,490 for 30 credit program
  • Nonresidents of North Carolina
  • $15,150 per semester (fees included)
  • About $50,5000 for 30 credit program

3. University of California – Los Angeles

  • $4,200 per course (9 required)
  • Tuition total for 36 credit program: $37,800

4. University of Central Florida

  • In-state tuition: $327.32 per credit hour
  • Tuition total for 30 credit program: $9,819.60 (fees not included)
  • Out-of-state tuition: $1,151.72 per credit hour
  • Tuition total for 30 credit program: $34,551.60 (fees not included)

5. University of Arizona

  • Residents of Arizona
  • $12,327 per 15-credit semester (fees included)
  • About $24,654 for 30 credit program
  • Nonresidents of Arizona
  • $14,630 per semester (fees included)
  • About $29,260 for 30 credit program

Master’s in Material Science and Engineering Salary and Job Outlook?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those who become material engineers have a positive salary and an average career outlook. As of May 2021, these kinds of engineers have a median salary of $98,300 per year, and this field is expected to grow by 8% in the next decade (2020 to 2030.) This percentage is the average, and the increase is due to workers retiring and leaving their jobs. 

Within the field of materials science and engineering, there is a difference in the median pay. Computer and electronic product manufacturing engineers make the highest at $112,330, and primary metal manufacturing engineers make the least at $82,380.  The BLS also reports salaries for the following:  

  • Computer and electronic product manufacturing
  • $112,330
  • Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences
  • $106,430 
  • Transportation equipment manufacturing
  • $102,080
  • Engineering services 
  • $86,980
  • Primary metal manufacturing engineers
  • $82,380

The state that you live in can also vary your median salary. Check out the highest earning states below as reported by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS):

  1. Washington – $132,110
  2. Alaska – $122,170
  3. Maryland – $115,430
  4. Texas – $114,930
  5. California – $112,760

Additionally, earning a master’s may also lead to a higher salary. Having a managerial position and leading a team, or having a more significant depth of knowledge, will only help your career and give you the potential to earn more money now or in the future. Therefore, a master’s in material science and engineering salary will be more beneficial than just an undergraduate degree in material science and engineering.

Common Courses in Online Materials Science and Engineering Degree Programs

Most master’s programs are composed of core requirements and electives that you can choose from. Here are some typical courses that you will find in master’s programs for materials science and engineering curricula:

  • Electronic Materials
  • Kinetics
  • Material Science Concepts
  • Polymer Technology and Engineering
  • Science of Electronic Materials
  • Thermodynamics

Every program will be different, so it is important to research each university thoroughly to ensure you will find the best program for you.

Other FAQs About Online Materials Science and Engineering Degrees and Programs

This frequently asked questions section may be helpful if you still have curiosities concerning an online materials science and engineering degree.

What are the admission requirements for a material engineering master’s program?

A bachelor’s degree from a 4-year accredited college or university will be required to pursue a program like this. Typically, your undergraduate degree will be in materials science and engineering as well. Still, it is okay to have one in a different engineering field as long as it involves physics, chemistry, or math.

Some programs will also require that you take the GRE, Graduate Record Examination, or provide letters of recommendation to highlight your success and dependability as a graduate candidate. You will see that some admissions standards are stricter than others. For example, UCLA requires your last two semesters of undergraduate work to be at least a 3.0 GPA.

How long does completing an online master’s in material science and engineering take?

This depends on the program that you wind up participating in. The majority of the programs are 30 credits. Although this can generally be completed in a year’s time, you may be in school part-time. If you are a part-time student, it may take 1.5 to 2 years to complete a 30-credit program. At most schools, you can decide your own pace.  Keep in mind that the program will take longer if you take fewer credits at a time.

What kind of career can I pursue once I complete my online master’s in material science and engineering degree?

You can apply for many careers once your degree is complete. You will notice that most do not have “materials science engineering” specifically in the title. You can take multiple career paths with this kind of engineering, depending on your interests. 

The University of Central Florida compiled this list of job opportunities:

  • Manufacturing Engineer
  • Materials Consultant
  • Materials Production Researcher
  • Metallurgical Engineer
  • Product/Process Development Scientist
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